Sunday, August 31, 2008

Cape Cod-Final Days

Today is Saturday and we are heading back home. For some crazy reason we have to be out of the house by ten in the morning, which strikes me as excessive, but such is the way of the Cape. We had a great vacation, the kids will be sad, R and I will be sad, but it's always nice to be home. We did lots of reading, at lots of good seafood, and spent lots of time on the beach and riding our bikes. Mission accomplished-the most important thing is we spent a lot of time together, no schedules and no stress. And most importantly, everyone had loads of fun.

We'll miss the Cape, but again, incorporating it more into our lives is something to work towards, and you always have to keep your eyes on the prize. Besides, I need to surf. It's going to happen.

Yesterday we spent the day at Coast Guard Beach, and the waves were sizable. And of course there were surfers out there. The day was on the mellow side, the water was freezing and the day was overcast, but I managed to dive into the water, something I felt I needed to do, don't ask me why. We were there for most of the day and had fish and chips for dinner at what I feel are the best at the Breakwater seafood market. Just the best. DO NOT WASTE your time at Lobster Shanty.

So this morning we'll pack up the house, clean up, and head home. I always like going home, but gauge the appeal of a place by how much I want to stay, or more appropriately, how little I actually want to leave, and I think we could do a summer here. A good way to get the kids into water sports.

In the meantime, got to keep blogging, and attending to GITGS. Until then, thanks for reading, and I'll see you in Vermont.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Cape Cod-Day 5-Friday

What a lazy day, we spent it all day inside, almost. The weather was just okay, mostly cloudy with a chance of meatballs. It didn't rain but the gray weather did not inspire us to motivate and get outside, so as a result, we lounged around the house for most of the day. I have to admit to liking it, I kept falling asleep and started to feel pretty lousy. The kids did great, Audrey found a new book to her liking and became absorbed while Nicholas puttered around the house, eventually settling into an overly ambitious puzzle at 300 pieces. Nonetheless, we got it started and eventually everyone jumped into the fray. I generally don't have the patience nor the mental fortitude to finish these things, but it's fun when we all get into something.

By late afternoon, with no rain and some glimpses of the sun, we finally decided that the time had come to get outside, so we put on our blades, the kids donned their helmets and we hit the rail trail. It must have been about three o'clock by the time we got outside. As usual, it was a blast. You don't think about it, but for Nicholas it ain't easy keeping up. He has a small bike and he's only four, but he kept up and worked so hard at riding along. I saw kids much older than him that weren't even pedaling on their own, choosing to ride on a hitch, instead. He should be proud of what he's doing, and we're sure to let him know it.

After the ride, we decided that the beach was in order, but not before picking up some dinner. Vowing never to eat at a place like the awful Lobster Shanty again, which I found to my utter disbelief was voted the #1 family restaurant in the area, a fact that I think is not only impossible to fathom, but is a conspiracy in and of itself, we wanted to grill some fish. And fish that was caught in Cape Cod waters, no less.

As you can imagine there is no shortage of fresh fish shops on the Cape, so naturally we were overwhelmed with our choices. So we took the easy way out and stopped at the first one we came to, which was about a mile away in Rock Harbor, I believe. Wherever it was, it was called Young's Fresh Fish and the two people behind the counter were an elderly couple, I think they were a couple, it just seeemed that way, who might have even been the owners. They were very nice and gave us some advice on a good fish to BBQ. Then again, she said that you generally eat half a pound per adult, which is way too much and more in line with the fat American serving.

We bought a pound filet of halibut for all four of us, a new area for us to cook in, and then some scallops, which Audrey and Ruth love. I was tempted to get some shrimp, also an Audrey and Ruth favorite, but decided that we had enough.

Then it was off to the beach. The question was, which beach? We like the wave beaches, we decided, and Audrey had her first taste of body surfing, so we set off for the Atlantic side and Nauset Beach. We concluded that it was now our favorite, though we like Coast Guard beach, but it's harder to get to.

The waves were decent and the wind was cold, but Audrey and Nicholas seem impervious to the elements, unlike their mom and dad. So while we bundled up and watched the surfers the kids played in the sand. There were quite few surfers out there, and there were decent sets rolling in. It really got me pumped on surfing, and Ruth even sent out some positive vibes about it, but that's for another time. Perhaps when we get our Cape Cod cottage, something to work towards.

By the time the sun was setting on the horizon, Audrey and Nicholas had decided that it was time to swim, much to our chagrin, but how can you deny them the fun? So they got all wet, and I had to oversee them and got wet, as well. But man did they have fun. They really love the beach and we regret that they can't spend more time there. Maybe someday soon in the future.

Like I said, something to work towards.

We left around 6:30, wet and cold. A steady stream of surfers was arriving as the swell picked up and was breaking pretty clean. I was intrigued by it all and will have surfing on my mind for the next year until we make it to the beach again.

Back at our flat, the kids had a bath and we grilled the fish and scallops and had a feast. Ruth made a killer yogurt/cucumber sauce and we warmed up some naan and had sweet potatoes, scallops, halibut and string beans. It was a most memorable meal, and for that matter, day, especially in lieu of the fact that it started so late.

Once the kids were in bed, I went to the Stop and Shop to get some final supplies, and was struck by the fact that 90% of the people working there were Russian. Very reminiscent of Martha's Vineyard, funny how that works.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Cape Cod-Day 2-Finding our Rhythm

I saw a rabbit in the backyard and a large coyote crossing the street out front this morning. It's funny because the owner, Kathy, was telling us that you can see deer now and then in the backyard and being the jaded Vermonters we thought, big fat hairy deal, but in the end, I still get excited seeing wild animals. Even frogs and hermit crabs get me excited, and the kids love it.

Anyway, it's Tuesday, and we've established a fun routine thus far that works out very nicely, and of course it involves no TV. Setting precedents, I can't overstate their importance. We've been lucky with the weather, though, which has enabled us to pull this off. We wake up and take out time in the AM, having breakfast and lounging around or reading. Audrey and Nicholas explore the house or play games or go outside and play. We have breakfast on the balcony in back, and it's a lot of fun. Afterward, we brush teeth and hit the rail trail, which is about half a block away. Audrey and Nicholas ride their bikes and Ruth and I Rollerblade. It's a lot of fun, we take our time, and just cruise. We do about a four-five mile loop, and then head back home for lunch and relaxation, of course on the back deck.

By early afternoon we are ready for our next adventure, so we pack up the car and head to the beach, avoiding the scorching midday sun. We have two options for the beach, both of which we've exercised. There are wave beaches and bay beaches, and since we are cruising into the afternoon hours, they tend to be less crowded. The bay beaches are more calm and serene, and Audrey and Nicholas love them for exploring and wading in the water, which is not unlike a pond. There are fish and tons of crabs, which they love to catch. In Boat Meadow it's cool because at low tide the boats are stranded on the bottom and look like shipwrecks. You can walk right up to them, and when the tide comes in it's once again like a bay.

Since the water is so calm, the kids can actually swim, though they don't go out very far. And the bay faces the west so you get beautiful sunsets where you can actually see the sun touch the horizon. It's lovely, and not a common sight in Vermont, though it does remind me of life in California.

The wave beaches are, at least in Eastham, along the National Sea Shore, and they tend to be a little busier, though again, by the time we get there things have cleared out a little. There tend to be more sufers, though the waves are not very good. Audrey and Nicholas do like playing in the waves, it's a lot of fun for them, and more of what I remember as a child growing up in California. It really doesn't take much, and it's a load of fun.

By the time it gets dark, it's time for us to head home, and because of this we've been eating dinner on the late side, but that's okay. It's vacation, after all. We have especially enjoyed eating barbeque out on the deck. Sure, we get bit a lot by bugs, but it's so nice out there, and you can't beat grilled food.

I don't know Cape Cod, but I get a sense that the farther out you go, the more desolate and exclusive it gets, with the exception of Provincetown. When you go more inland, it gets more urban-like and neighborhoody, but I could be wrong. The point is, I like Eastham, and would like to check out more, but for some reason like being on the Outer Cape, even if it's just the beginning of it.

Sleep has been coming extremely easy for everyone, and it is a good sign that we are having full days and lots of fun. I've found that I'm aspiring to new and exciting things in life since being here, but we'll see where that goes.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Cape Cod-Day 3-Provincetown

We couldn't go to the Cape without spending a day in Provincetown, the gay mecca of the Cape and perhaps the Northeast. The weather was beautiful and we were excited. I'd been to Provincetown a couple of times in the past and always enjoyed it. The gay atmosphere reminds me of being in the Village in NYC, and it's definitely bohemian and artsy. It's also shopping hell. I went with two places in mind-Conwell Lumber to get my soy-based stain, and a place to find a brake pad for my rollerblades.

As we approached the town, I couldn't help but think that the place had grown, at least the cottages that line the coast on the way in. It just seemed larger in scale, but that could be an illusion. My mind works in strange ways. Well, right from the get go, as we entered the town, my first thought was that it was too crowded and hectic, but it doesn't take much. I was looking forward to going to Conwell Lumber and actually meeting Jeff, the guy in charge. I wanted more soy finish and figured that since we were out there, I could save on shipping and meet the guy who has been very helpful thus far in my eco-quest. I had ordered some stuff but it was delayed so I told him I'd be in personally to pick it up. I'm guessing he didn't believe me but left it at that.

We actually happened upon the hardware store on the outskirts of town. The streets were narrow and traffic was everywhere, and I couldn't help but think it was a shitty place to have a lumber yard, but Provincetown needs hardware. R and the kids waited in the car while headed inside and got lost immediately. As you can imagine, the place was a labyrinth. I found the stain, was hoping to meet Jeff but the guy behind the counter said he was busy with several calls and I'd have to wait. Well, I couldn't wait, my family was waiting for me in the car, so I tried poking around to find him, but no luck. I wasn't going to meet him, but such is life. I'll just email him.

Provincetown was bustling. I was under the impression that we were heading into slow season, but it was packed, with the usual cast of colorful characters. The kids thought it was fun and exciting, and we browsed through some shops and poked our heads into some stores, which tiring really fast. I don't get a sense that the kids new what was going on, but they were having fun.

And then the issue of lunch. We were getting hungry, and searched for a place to sit down. Now as you can imagine, there are no shortages of places to eat in Provincetown, the choices are quite eclectic, so we decided to embrace this fact and sat down in a South African restaurant on the main strip. It was really nice in terms of atmosphere, with hip African music playing in the background and all sorts of authentic (I'm assuming) South African decor. It was fun. The food was very interesting, with regional selections as well as ugly-American fare like hot dogs and stuff like that.

We were a little adventurous, and I liked the food. Not wanting to be like the ugly American that wants cheap food and large portions, I did think that the servings were on the small side, and expensive to boot. This wouldn't have been a problem except that I was hungry. We got a veggie appetizer platter which was very good, though it's hard to go wrong with fried foods. There was a hummus plate and the lentl/mint salad. A had the wild boar sausage, which had faint suggestions of Andouille, and N had the hot dog.

I thought the food was nice, it didn't blow me away, though it was flavorful and interesting, but again, for the price, I came away from it wanting a slice of pizza. It was too gourmet, in a way, but not enough. I'm guessing it's not a place regulars go, but then again, maybe it is.

We wandered around some more, into a killer store, the Army Surplus, which is like going to Disneyland. I found some killer surfing coffee mugs, I bought two, and wished I'd gotten the whole set. Maybe I still can. A&N were enjoying themselves and having a blast, though the gay scene was a mystery to them. I feel comfortable in a gay town, though the constant blatant references to sex in the store windows get on my nerves, mainly for the children's sake. We had to answer some awkward questions.

We stopped for a smoothie and in the process of trying to divide it into two, I spilled the whole damn thing on A, poor thing. I went back to get another and the girl didn't give it to me for free, which bummed me out but I can't hold that against her. We had some gelatto, which was a rip-off but the portions were thankfully small, which may seem counterintuitive, but with things like ice cream and other assorted sweets, when the portions are large, that isn't always a good thing with kids.

By the late afternoon, we were beat, and had our fill of Provincetown, the proverbial nice place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there. It is exciting and fun, though. We stopped in Truro and Wellfleet on the way back, both quaint and charming little towns, though Truro made no impression on me, and then headed back to Eastham, still hungry after our lunch, or lack thereof.

We stopped at the Lobster Shanty for dinner, and it was such an awful experience that I won't go into it too much on this post. It was nice to be home and to get some sleep. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Cape Cod-Day 4-Thursday

We had a great day yesterday and did more of what a true summer vacation might be, which is hang out on the beach. The kids had a great time just playing in the sand and digging large holes with shovels and buckets. And of course, as the quintessential dad, I was out there helping out, getting covered in sand and on my hands and knees. We pretty much spent the whole day out there, and it was a blast.

The beaches here are beautiful, our tax dollars at work. They remind me of Long Island in a way, crowded with city folks and lots of umbrellas, ice chests and boogie boards. And, the surfers are, for the most part, a bunch of kooks, but at least they're trying.

We spent the greater part of the day just playing on the beach, not doing much of anything, actually, and like I said, it was great. We changed our rhythm somewhat and vowed not to eat out after our horrible experience at the horrid Lobster Shanty, and after the beach had a nice dinner at home on the grill. Can't tell you how nice it was to eat at home.

One thing about the beach is that it's a bit expensive to go to, $15 to park and now way getting around that. Even if you ride your bike there they charge you, which I think is lame, but it's a vacation. How do the locals pull it off? There is a shuttle that takes you from the parking lot to the beach and the kids got a kick out of that, and once we were there, we staked out our place, pitched out tent, and had fun.

We've been lucky with the nice weather, though if anything it was cold and windy, making the water absolutely unappealing. But, the kids wanted to swim, so I had to take the plunge, and man was I suffering. The wind makes it almost unbearable, but these are the things you do for your children, right? I tried to teach them how to body surf, but in the end, what's there to teach? Moral support is what it's all about. To really get into it, you need to get out in the deeper water and I think the kids are not ready for that.

Having said that, however, since they are so young, they had a lot of fun just body surfing in the whitewater near the shore. They had a lot of fun, they didn't want to get out, but as I mentioned, it was cold and eventually bodily needs took over and we had to get out.

Our vacation is more than half over. On Sunday we'll head back home. Until then, thanks for reading.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Cape Cod-Day 1-Sunday

We had just arrived, caught our breath after conversing with our landlord, Kathy, and then decided to get a feel for our town. I'm not wholly familiar with Cape Cod, but I get a sense it's a big place, bigger than I imagined. We got the lowdown on the area from Kathy, and there's much going on, but we were mainly interested in hitting the beach.

Now the nice thing about the Cape is that it has two types of beaches, if not more if you're going to get really technical about it. For our purposes, there are the Atlantic beaches, more of what I'm accustomed to with sand and lots of surf, and there are the Bay beaches, which are calm and serene, with lots of ocean life to explore. Both have their merits, but with kids, sometimes the Bay approach works best, especially when you have curious and inquisitive kids, like all kids.

We went for a drive and checked out the neighborhood. It's really nice, almost like a quiet burb. Eastham is what is really the beginning of the Outer Cape, the first part of the forearm that ends with Provincetown. I rather like it here, actually, it seems more down to earth than places further out, where you can really begin to sense the air of exclusivity. This is a community, albeit one filled with tourists, including ourselves, many of whom are obnoxious city folks with their SUVs and cell phones.

Either way, I wonder what the locals make of all this. There is a tennis court across the street, and though we have access to it, the "members only" sign is beyond obnoxious. We located a small library, very important for our young readers, a small store just down the road, and the big supermarket about ten minutes away. And of course, there are the greasy fish restaurants, but more on that later.

We went to First Encounter Beach, getting there in the afternoon to avoid the parking fee while. Apparently all the townships have different rules regarding who can park and how much each car must pay. The area seems divided up into town beaches and park beaches, with park meaning US National Forest parks. There is a huge swath of coastline that is a protected preserve, and the beaches are left undeveloped and pristine, though open to the public. These beaches seem to be on the Atlantic coast, where there are waves. We started out in the Bay.

Kathy told us to pass the main lot and go to the end, where it's not only more secluded, but you have access to the rivermouth where lots of sea creatures dwell. And it's there that we decided to go. First Encounter Beach is a quiet beach where a swamp or salt marsh of some sort drains into the Bay, and along the river and near the rivermouth there are all sorts of living things, perfect for the inquisitive mind of a child.

We spent the greater part of the afternoon there, well until sundown, and got to watch the sun melt into the horizon. Lovely, actually. The kids had fun playing and splashing in the water, we kicked back and relaxed, and a fun time was had by all.

On the way to the beach we stopped at one of the ubiquitous fried fish joints on the Cape. They are everywhere, it gets silly. How do you choose? Kathy recommended Arnolds, but the line was 45 minutes long, no thank you. We drove around and couldn't decide, they all look the same, and how different can fried fish be? We finally found a quiet, non-descript fish market in Orleans, of all things, that had fish and chips, and we stopped. There was virtually no crowd save for an older woman waiting for her order, while the Mexican food place across the parking lot was bustling. Hmm...

The fish and chips were GREAT! I forgot the name but would eat there in a flash, good crispy fish sticks with big, thick filets of white fish. Great fries, the breaded, salty crispy kind.

We came home, the kids conked out, and we had a nice first day, or rather afternoon in Cape Cod. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Cape Cod Prep-Food and Gear

One of the pitfalls of going on a road trip is the irresistible temptation to bring as much as you can carry, and with our newly acquired Thule racks, we were set up to carry a lot. And a lot we did carry. First off was the food. We don't eat out a lot, in fact, we used to eat out a lot more, but in order to save some dough we cook most of our food, but it goes beyond economics. We are simply big fans of fresh fruits and veggies, things you don't really get at restaurants. I'm shocked at how little they give you in terms of those things, but I'm guessing they're simply catering to the demands of the public.

With this in mind, we packed tons of fruit, veggies, and meat and intended to cook most of our meals. This is great in theory, but it sure takes up a lot of space in the car, but fortunately we had out Thule. We love those racks. We also packed a multitude of condiments since we hate buying the stuff, using it once, and then leaving it. The gist of our plan was to bring back much less food than we took with us, which is reasonable.

In terms of gear, I realize we are a much smaller operation than most people, but even still, we were taking our bikes with us, which quite an undertaking. We also had tennis rackets, roller blades, computer, movies, books, and music. I guess in the end, it really isn't so bad, and we've made good use of all of them, so no complaints on that end.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Home Away From Home-Our Cottage

The drive down to Cape Cod is very manageable, depending on where you go. The farther out to the Provincetown you go, the longer, obviously. To make the situation at times unbearable, there is only one road in and out, and needless to say, the traffic can be horrendous. Maybe not as bad as traffic out to the Hamptons, but close.

It's a beautiful drive, though, and something about being close to the ocean makes it all the more acceptable. We are staying in Eastham, which if you look the proverbial bicep diagram of the Cape, we would fall along the beginning of the forearm just after the elbow. Now I know nothing about Cape Cod, and as much as I tell people how much I love it here, I haven't spent sufficient time to really claim with any credibility that I am familiar with the island. Like everyone else, except for the religious right, of course, I love Provincetown, and have camped and even surfed. But spending quality time with the family is a new one.

Either way, our cottage was in Eastham. Now the market for rentals in Cape Cod is huge, a real estate market in and of itself. If you have the money, you can stay pretty much anywhere, and though R did all the legwork, I got a sense of what's out there, and much of it is en par with the Hamptons. But, you can find deals if you have the time. We didn't have the time, and R ended up taking a place that wasn't her first choice, either in amenities, location and price, but time was running out, and she got good vibes from the owner.

And, nobody else was getting back to her.

So here we are, and I must confess that I like Eastham. It's a nice location, at least where we are staying. There were several rentals that R was looking at in the area, and it helps to get a sense of where we are for future reference. And where we are is Eastham.

The Cape seems to be a series of small consecutive townships that run along the outcropping known as Cape Cod. The farther out you go, I sense, the more prestigious it is, but that's the suburbanite in me talking. We are about midway. Now this is probably true of all the towns, but Eastham has a nice mix of Atlantic facing beaches, with waves, and Bay facing beaches, with nice tidepools. More exploration would be necessary to make a formal conclusion, as I'm guessing that it's true everwhere.

We met the owner of the house, Kathy, an incredibly energetic woman who has apparently lived here for fifteen years and feels strongly about how much she loves it. She's very nice and very helpful, offering advice and tips for the area, which has been very helpful because there is so much to know. This place is great.

Now the first thing you notice about this place is that it ain't no cottage. It's a house, and a big one, at that. The house is nestled in a nice neighborhood that is very centrally located near the beach and the bike trail. Kathy is quite gifted in art of conversation and has briefed us on the intricacies of how to get the most of the area, and she answers our questions with the energy of gasoline thrown on fire.

We will explore the area and attempt to establish a rhythm. Until then, thanks for reading.

Hitting the Road

We left for the Cape on Sunday, the excitement was palpable. The kids were thrilled at the idea of travelling, even though we had just returned from a couple of days in Franconia. We're glad the kids love to travel and see the world as a much bigger place than just their backyard. They do very well on long car trips, without the use of DVD players, which I find ludicrous and unnecessary, but do have some degree of empathy for.

I had a lot of anxiety about driving with our car in its current state, with two major concerns on my mind. First, there was so much stuff on our car that I assumed that it would be too heavy to move, or at the very least, top forty mph on the highway. Secondly, I naturally assumed that both the pod and the bike rack would go flying onto the road once we started driving.

And of course, none of that happened. Not even close.

In fact, there were moments when I thought the roof pod actually made the car faster, but realize the ludicrousness of such a concept. We did the slow drive to the highway, stopped at Mikes to get gas and check the air. One of the few gas stations I've seen in recent memory that actually gives you free access to air, it's just that you have to drive to the garage and he brings the hose out to you. Just FYI, we introduced ourselves since we're now neighbors, and he was a super nice guy.

Once on the highway, we headed south for the Cape. The first time we hit sixty, I told R and the kids to keep an eye on the roof and the back to make sure nothing goes flying, and I was aware of every unfamiliar sound and vibration for the next fifty miles. The funny thing about racks, they seem to vibrate and jiggle when you drive. I remember the same experience when I used to surf, the boards always wiggle when you drive. A little disconcerting.

Well, by the time we were in MA, I was much more at ease and was once again able to enjoy the ride. It was a beautiful day, the kids were excited and having fun in the back, and we were heading off for our Cape Cod vacation.

Just a note, I'm aware of how cliche it is to spend a week in the Cape, much like the Hamptons are to New Yorkers, but for all it's worth, the Cape is a great place. The people are cool, for the most part, a lot of out of towners, which is probably a drag for the locals, but it brings in money, and it gets especially obnoxious when the visitors are sophisticated city-folks with the commensurate sense of entitlement. For all it's worth, we see a lot of the same in Vermont, especially being near Quechee.

But it is the beach, and there is surf. You can't beat that, and even though it does get inundated with tourists, including ourselves, there's something quaint and cool about beaches in New England. They still manage to retain some charm.

I'll resume when we get to our cottage, and until then, thanks for reading.

Planning our Trip to Cape Cod

It was with much deliberation and fanfare that we set off on our vacation and simultaneously joined the pantheon of people who comprise that all-encompassing, ubiquitous group of people known as the all-American vacationer. The same ones that I've been so disparaging of (talk about hypocrisy) and made fun of as they made their way through Vermont, their cars laden with bikes and luggage attached to the roof of their cars, interiors brimming with stuff.

We'd decided to go to Cape Cod this summer, a much easier trip in many ways, about a four hour drive from where we live. Also, we didn't have to worry about catching planes or making it through security, or for that matter, securing exchange and learning another language. Just a short drive and we were there.

Of course, with the concept of driving our car, we also invited the notion of bringing lots of stuff, and bring lots of stuff we did. We'd been given a Thule pod to us by our friend, GL, but found it to be a bit daunting. It was the largest carrier pod that they make, and we have such a small car that I just assumed that it was going to be too big and wouldn't even fit on our car.

Well, as you might have guessed, it sure did fit, and pointed out once again the importance of at least trying before you throw in the towel, much like I do. Well, once we realized that we now had so much space, it opened up the desire to have our bikes along, as well, so we made a few calls and went out and bought a Thule rear mount bike rack, as well. Thus, we had joined the rank and file of the ultimate vacationer and were now ready to roll.

With so much space at our beckoning, the sky was the limit. We had secured a cottage in Cape Cod literally at the last minute. R was furiously trying to find a place and it went down to the wire. We were slated to leave on Saturday and she got one on Friday. Though it was last minute, you really benefit from the desperate climate of owners who just want to fill their spaces. If we hadn't taken it, it would have gone unoccupied. For what it's worth, and it's worth a lot, R said the stress made it a crappy experience, and in the future she wouldn't do it again.

So we started packing and planning, and it didn't take long before things got a little out of hand. We decided to pack things we never would have imagined, including sheets and towels, which for the record are required by Cape Cod traditions. We had bikes, tennis rackets, and food. Lots and lots of food. Since we had a cottage, cooking at home, with a barbeque, no less, was now a possibility that we were going to take full advantage of.

The food issue was the most concerning, because we literally had about a weeks worth of the stuff. A lot of it was stuff that you needed to use once or twice but didn't want to go out and buy, things like condiments and seasoning. So we packed it, and before we knew it, we had a ton of food, which I actually found much to my liking. As much as I like to eat out, I find it brings me down after awhile because of economic and healthy considerations.

On the eve of our departure, I tested out our pod and rack, making sure they didn't fall off, though the true test would be at sixty mph on the highway, we packed our stuff and were ready to roll. The only thing missing was my surfboard, but that is for another time.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Looking Ahead

Today is our birthday, mine and R together, and I thought I should at least make an entry for today. In atypical fashion, I believe, we tend to celebrate our birthdays by doing things that would be fun for the kids, and of course, we enjoy it, as well.

I guess that we don’t put so much weight on a single moment or a day, and would rather spend the rest of our lives enjoying each and every moment. It makes life more fulfilling, in the end.

We are off to Franconia for the day, after which we’ll come back and go who knows where. We are potentially slated to go to Cape Cod, so cliché, but the idea of sun and surf is appealing. The weather has not been great, but as long as we can spend time together in peace, free from needy people, we’ll have fun.

It’s been a great summer, though a busy and sometimes rough one, filled with burdens and kids (not ours, of course) who suck the life out of you. Glad it’s over, but now we have to regroup and look towards the fall.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Juggling Act

With the gradual departure of summer (can it really be?) and the first signs of fall, I find that I have to begin the juggling act that entails planning for when everyone goes back to school. It means a big shift in our social lives, and I once again have to establish new routines. I'd like to find some fun activities for the kids that include other kids, but it's tough.

On the home front, I'm tired of being daycare daddy, it's too much to deal with. Our time is our time and to have it infringed on spoils it in the end. So what's a dad to do? I once again feel under siege in our own home, but maybe it's just a good case of having to deal with it like a man and say how you feel. We just don't want to do anything with you.

We've had a busy schedule and I'm looking forward to just chilling out and doing nothing, but I know that phone's going to ring first thing in the morning, and it bums me out.

What are we going to do with Fall? Have to find some cool things for the kids to do. I'd like for the kids to do Karate, I've decided, and hope they'll respond. Still trying to work out the cat thing, so we'll see how that goes. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Friday, August 8, 2008

It's Still Summer

Things have been mellow and fun, we've been able to live our own schedule because certain parents have been able to find avenues to farm out their kids while not relying on us. Refreshing, to say the least, but our time will come since there are still a few weeks left in summer until school begins. I don't know how parents do it, but one thing is becoming more clear to me-consumption forces the issue.

I've found that a lot of parents spend way too much money, making it imperative to hold down two jobs. Then again, two incomes are a given up here, life is just hard. Even still, the level of spending makes me anxious and uneasy, but it's none of my business, so I'll leave it at that.

The question has been posed to me about daycare-ing in the next few weeks, and I can't say for sure. We do have plans, and in my heart I don't want to do it for several reasons, the most significant of which is that it really disrupts our time together as a family, which I value. Adding one more kid to the mix really changes things, and I'm not saying that because I want to monopolize my kid's time. We just have a great time hanging out together doing nothing but hanging out together, a lost art amongst families. Factor in an overscheduled child who is used to having her hand held or being enrolled in assorted activities, and suddenly all that changes. Also, there is the issue of rebellion, and kids who question adults and don't listen. It all adds up.

And, of course, it's just plain hard, not to mention more expensive. The problem is, our kids love this other kid, and they have fun, and if they had it their way, they'd live together, and maybe that's what being a kid is all about, carefree fun, but for me, it's hard. Plain hard, no way around it, and as a parent who spends most of his time watching over and caring for his kids, I still feel the need to kick, scream and fight to spend quality time with my children, and will do so. That will never change.

So we'll wait and see how this one comes out. Until then, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Summer's Winding Down

I can't believe it's already August, and we've yet to see a day break 100. Something's going on out there. I have to admit, we've had a great summer doing all sorts of fun stuff while not succumbing to the whole camp hysteria. A&N each did one week of Montshire camp and that was it, but we were clearly anomalies in this regard. I'm struck by how much camp kids attend, though I understand that summer must be a hard time for parents with no school.

Even still, the amount of scheduling and expense that go into it is staggering. There are many kids who go to camp every week over the summer, and at well over $200 a pop, that's a lot of dough. I understand the whole Hanover/Norwich set with their two-professional households, but for a lot of folks, I can't help but think that it boils down to the old "don't know what to do with the kids," scenario. It always leads to over-scheduling because the idea of sitting around the house with your kids is unthinkable.

We found that our kids loved camp, but were clearly tired out by it all. So even though they loved it, there was some hesitation and by the end, we were all in need of a break. But we pulled it off, and it wasn't easy. Life with one care continues to force us to be creative and adaptable. All things considered, it wasn't as bad as I'd thought it would be. We would drop off the kids at camp, I would drop R off at work, and then I'd have two hours to myself. Not knowing what to do with myself, I'd hang out at the library and try to write or go shopping for food and various kid necessities. On the day's I'd work, we'd go in together, and it was fun. I think people look at us as weird because we do so much together, especially as a family. I am struck by how different we are, though I wouldn't change a thing.

We had some great milestones this summer. N refused his life-vest and is now a swimming machine, though I still never leave his side. He also just recently shed his training wheels and is now a biking machine, as well. He is so proud and excited, as well he should be. A overcame some huge anxieties and jumped off the diving board, which was big for her. And she is cranking on her home-schooling, moving at warp speed.

In the end, life is good. We are working hard at perfecting our gig, though perfection is a bad way to look at it. We are trying to optimize under less than ideal circumstances, which ironically makes our lives more fulfilling. We spend more time together and rely less on external sources for our enjoyment. I.e., we enjoy eachother's company, and it's not a chore to be together. What else could you ask for?

The weather has been very odd for this time of year. I can't believe how much rain we've gotten, which makes it more challenging to entertain the kids, but then again, they are great at entertaining themselves.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Boy, I think they really screwed up by not putting more info out there about fluorescent bulbs. Why do the have to use mercury, of all thing? I was working the basement the other day, building some shelves, and I cracked a bulb on the ceiling fixture. It didn't shatter and there were only a few shards on the ground, but it was enough to freak me out. I forbade the kids from entering and began the cleanup.

I'm still not clear as to what happens when the bulbs break, but my understanding is the mercury vapor is released, though a lot of it apparently adheres to the glass shards that fall. I picked up the pieces and sealed the bulb in a plastic bag, and then began the cleanup. I'd heard you don't vacuum or sweep for fear of dissipating the mercury, but then what are you supposed to do? I did the duct tape thing, but that'll only get you so far. I hope it was enough.

I opened up the bulkhead and vented the place, but it really bummed me out to have it happen. I'm thinking really of the kids, don't want to put them in harms way. I'll keep researching this, but suffice it to say that the dangers we impose on ourselves really suck.